Needless to say, the island of Sant’Antioco has huge numbers of beaches, inlets and coves. These coves are often inaccessible to humans, and are the domain of the many species of marine animals that live in the clean, clear water around the island. Let’s find out about them! Have you ever been so close to a dolphin that you feel you could almost stroke it? This could well happen around Sant’Antioco! If you’re out in a boat exploring the sea round the island, you may have the good fortune to see one. Somethimes they come up to a metre of the boat, and even follow sailors for long distances. Or, if you’re relaxing on one of the stretches of coast between Capo Sperone and Cala Lunga and looking out to sea, you might be so lucky as to catch a glimpse of dolphins jumping out of the water.
But dolphins are not the only creatures you might see dancing on the waves: bluefin tuna are also often present off the coast of Sant’Antioco. When? In summer: huge shoals of this prized marine species pass through the waters of the Sulcis Archipelago, following their customary route. It’s a sight not to be missed! Lobsters and crayfish live in the many mysterious caves that extend below the surface of the water, while that precious red gold – coral – can be found growing on the sea bed. These deep waters around Sant’Antioco are the home of the sea turtle (“Caretta Caretta”), grouper, swordfish, and many other varieties of fish.
And there are other creatures too: the north-west part of the island, close to “Stagno Cirdu”, is known for its abundance of Mediterranean mussels, clams and oysters, and for the Pinna Nobilis, a large bivalve at risk of extinction and the source of byssus, the “silk of the sea”.
There are many wild mammals living in the dense Mediterranean scrub in the hinterland of Sant’Antioco, including foxes, weasels, wild cats and wild boar. And it’s not hard to see them as you explore the island. Weasels and wild cats are rather less common, but foxes and wild boar are the true rulers of this territory. Although foxes are usually suspicious animals, they can often be seen in certain coves around the island (such as Su Portixeddu), unfazed by curious looks from people on the beach.
However, you will almost never encounter a wild boar during the day. But at night it leaves its den in search of food and water, and then you will hear it crashing through the Mediterranean scrub. You might even have to slow down when you’re driving along one of the many country roads on the island to let it cross to the other side, possibly followed by its young. Mammals are not the only “special” inhabitants of the hinterland; there are also tortoises, snakes and newts. And finally, there are creatures that are specific to Sant’Antioco. There are some rather unusual reptiles found on the islet of Toro, such as the Tyrrhenian Lizard (exclusive to Toro) and the Tarantolino, a type of gecko.